Inspiration for The Girl from Simon’s Bay
Given Simon's Town's rich historical background, I'd always felt it would lend itself to a story of love and heroism. The ghosts of wartime sailors, the ships that came and went, the folk who served ashore... I had a sense that they were watching me as I explored the town's alleys, discovered the old Royal Naval Hospital, and identified ships' badges on the dry dock walls. And from the post-war era, a new set of ghosts began to populate my imagination: people who had once lived on the mountainside above the dockyard but had been evicted from their homes in the 1960s. Was it possible, I wondered, to marry the two threads in a book that would stretch from the sea battles of World War 2 and onwards into an uncertain future?
I latched the garden gate behind me without looking back, took up my case and walked away.
Wild pink belladonna lilies nodded from the dry verges of the railway line.
There would be lilies wherever I went. Perhaps not as beautiful as these, but I could learn to love the substitutes like I loved all the ones I'd grown up with - regal Cape arums in winter, burnt orange clivias in spring.